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Back to school tips for teachers

By Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education

Going back to school after the summer holidays can be a nerve-racking, exciting and hectic time for teachers. So, we’ve spoken to teachers up and down the country who have offered their own tips to make the back to school transition that little bit easier. Whether you are a newly qualified teacher, or just looking to reacquaint yourself with your back to school processes, there’s something for everybody.

Zaynab Bharuchi – Assistant Principle: "Celebrate your class results or case studies of pupils who achieved with new classes or pupils. It's amazing how motivating it can be for pupils to know of someone in the year ahead who overcame challenges and obstacles or simply achieved. It's pretty good for you too. After all it was you who got them there.”

Andrea Taylor – Secondary School Teacher and Teaching School Associate: “My 'back to school' tip is inspired by my excellent colleague and mentee, Kelly McElroy, who successfully completed her NQT year last year. At the start of the year, before she had met a single pupil, Kelly looked at her timetable carefully and designed a marking timetable. She worked out the best time each fortnight (we have a two-week timetable) to mark each set of books, ensuring she had sufficient time to turn a whole set of books around between lessons.

More importantly, she taped it to her desk and she stuck to it like glue throughout the year. She never felt overwhelmed by marking, as so many of us do, because she had been proactive and pre-empted this problem.

This strategy also works because it takes account of the fact that marking forms a crucial aspect of lesson planning. Her regular and consistent marking meant that she was able to plan and adapt lessons according to her students’ needs. The students really appreciated the regularity of her marking and I am quite certain this was one of the main reasons that students held her in such high regard. In 15 years of teaching, I have never been this organised, but it is never too late to start. I'll be devising my marking timetable next week.”

Chris Henley – Assistant Headteacher: “If you aren't excited at the beginning of a new school year, you are in the wrong job.

Make your mantra for this year ‘the best possible’. Be the best possible version of yourself every single day, encourage the kids you teach to put in the best possible effort they can and help your school to be the best possible. The best possible every moment of every-day”

Sophie Heaton – Primary School Teacher: “View it as a fresh start. Your new class might have acted a certain way/achieved a certain amount with their previous teacher, but they should have a fresh start with you now. Also, a fresh start for the teacher in terms of their approach / techniques they want to try out.”

Niari White – Further Education Tutor: “Be prepared – the start of the year will be smoother if you’ve got everything ready in advance. The better prepared you are, the better you will feel. Don’t leave it to the last minute”

Gary Toward – Author and Former Head Teacher: “Reflect on the previous year: opportunity to think about what went well and what didn’t, and what you can improve (not just planning, behaviour management etc).

Setting up good rapport with your new class is crucial, but it is also important to think about setting up good rapport with the parents too (usually have a meeting with them in Sept) and with any new staff who are starting in the school (or all staff, if you are the new one). Have a good sort out and clear out of your classroom – start afresh in Sept.

As the end of the summer holidays approach their end all brilliant teachers should be looking forward to the new term (if not, you're in the wrong job...honestly). Make the new term start as positively as possible with every kid you teach by systematically ensuring you find a reason to praise them. Make it even more powerful by linking that praise to something they have improved on.”

Harriet Crossley – Primary Teacher: “Buy a material pen and ask the students to write their names in the back of their jumpers. This can avoid jumper confusion hell!”

If you are looking for a new challenge or want to discuss your current or future recruitment needs, please contact your local Hays Education recruitment consultant.

About this author

Paul has been with Hays since 1999 and the National Director of Hays Education since 2007. He is responsible for leading experts from 40 offices across the UK who specialise in recruiting for Early Years, Primary, Secondary, SEN, Further Education and Leadership staff on a daily supply, long term supply or permanent basis. His extensive experience is invaluable to ensuring schools, colleges, nurseries, academies and MATs have access to the best possible candidates.

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